Pulled between his two homes of Ibiza and the Yarra Valley, Rick Liston is a passionate photographer always chasing that special moment. Falling into the world of wedding photography early, Rick truly loves what he does, as he shares, "Photography remains an incredible doorway into people’s lives and I love to step through it."
What led you down the path of wedding photography?
Funnily enough, one of my first paid jobs while I was in high school was filming a wedding. I had a video camera and assumed that’s all there was to it. I think I got paid $100 and spent about a week editing the footage. The experience made me never want to work in weddings again. I returned to it as a photographer many years down the line when friends started asking me to shoot their weddings. They liked how calm and happy I made them feel around the camera and the moments I could capture without them ever realising a moment was there to begin with. When a friend in Shanghai hired me alongside a team of FIVE professional photographers (they go big there) to shoot her wedding and then only shared my photos, it occurred to me I might actually be good at it.
What is it like living and working between Australia and Ibiza?
To be perfectly frank, it’s not without its challenges. Double rent, double marketing, flying with an infant! But we do it religiously because Ibiza is a part of us. My wife and daughter were born there. They have the Mediterranean in their blood. We wouldn’t be complete without eating jamón bocadillos on the beach and complaining about the traffic. It also can’t be understated how much of an impact the cultural variances have on working in Spain compared with Australia. You have to forget every expectation you have about punctuality, for instance.
Tell us more about the documentary style of shooting for weddings?
For the most part, it’s an artistic yet faithful account of how the day actually occurred. However, terms like ‘candid’, ‘natural’, and ‘documentary’ are seldom strictly accurate. Those gorgeous photos of couples embracing and laughing with each other alone in a paddock with the sun setting behind them often require a large element of suggestion. Nearly 100% of couples want natural shots, I’m yet to meet a couple that adamantly requested posed photos. The art is in creating natural moments in the most visually pleasing environment. I’m always upfront with my couples about this, as I don’t want to sound hypocritical. I want them to be themselves, to forget I’m there, but that for best results, I might occasionally suggest where to do it.
Where is your favourite wedding location to shoot in Ibiza?
Unquestionably, on the clifftops of cala d’hort, overlooking the mystical island that we named our daughter after, Es Vedra. The island pierces the horizon in a shroud of local legend and is the home of Ibiza’s Goddess, Tanit. Its majesty is palpable, you can’t think about anything other than how blessed you feel to be standing there beholding it.
In your opinion, what makes a good wedding photographer?
Art is subjective. So if a particular photographer’s style is what works for you, great! What I would classify as a good photographer has more to do with the way they conduct themselves professionally and less about how the photos look. Transparency is a big one for me. It drives me crazy when couples tell stories about their sister’s wedding photographer who charged for shooting the wedding then charged for releasing the photos and they only found out afterward. That would be like paying the caterers to cook the food only finding out you have to pay again if you actually want to eat it. It’s preposterous!
It’s a privilege to be selected to shoot someone’s wedding. Of all the wedding photographers out there, they’ve chosen you to capture what may be the best day of their lives. You owe them your honesty and transparency. If they walk away feeling delighted with their photos and with their experience in working with you, they’ve found a good photographer.
Do you have a favourite moment to shoot during a wedding?
It’s a common one, I’m sure. I love to get the groom’s beaming face over the shoulder of the bride as she walks down the aisle. It’s a moment that will never be repeated and, once captured, will always remain an honest, unadulterated, testimony of his love for her.
Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
From the couples themselves. You feed off their energy. How they are with each other dictates how the photos will turn out far more than any photographer I follow on Instagram.
What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?
There was a project a few years back called One Day on Earth. It was a composition of videos from every country on the planet taken on one particular day. My image of a violinist standing perilously on a skyscraper rooftop balustrade and playing to the Shanghai skyline was used for the front cover and the footage was screened in every country in the world.
What advice would you give a couple scouting for a wedding photographer?
Finding the photographer they like by their photos should be the easy part, just make sure you’re checking whole weddings. Meet with them beforehand to make sure you vibe and don’t feel shy about asking questions you have the right to know the answers to. If the wedding album is a big part of your decision, where was it made? I’d be cautious of anyone who won’t disclose their supplier. It’s your wedding album after all, and it should be made to last a lifetime. Are they insured? If no, why not? Are there any costs that will arise that haven’t already been disclosed? Will you receive the unwatermarked, high resolution images? In my experience, and certainly in the Yarra Valley where I work, most wedding photographers are awesome, talented, passionate people, and if you like their stuff, you can’t go too far wrong.
What is the best feedback you’ve ever received from a couple whose wedding you’ve shot?
It was probably from a groom who told me his wife hadn’t stopped crying over the photos all week. I’ve chosen to assume those were happy tears.
Contact Rick: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Liston Photography: www.rickliston.com